Gary Stern, co-founder of Data East Pinball, Stern Pinball and co-founder of AAMA, and his late father Sam Stern, a co-owner of Williams Electronics and founder of Stern Electronics, have joined together as entrants into the Amusement Industry Hall of Fame.
After getting into the coin machine business in the 1930s as an operator and later as a distributor, Sam Stern decided to get into manufacturing by buying half of Williams Electronics from Harry Williams in 1947. (As the story goes, Stern walked in, put his feet up on Harry’s desk and asked, “Why don’t you sell me your company?”)
During the 1950s and ‘60s, the pair grew Williams and shaped the pinball industry – creating innovations like multi-player games, score reels and playfield mechanisms and art packages that enhanced the game in ways never before seen.
By 1986, after the death of his father, Gary Stern helped found Data East Pinball, which was purchased by Sega and called Sega Pinball. Gary subsequently bought the business from Sega and Stern Pinball was born.
Stern, of course, is the lone survivor from that era still making pins today, having steadfastly made it through tough years for the industry. Today, they’re continuing to grow the game to new heights.